Chicago White Sox ace Jose Quintana might have seemed like an odd choice to appear as a guest on Tuesday’s “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.” After all, the Chicago Cubs are the team with all of the mainstream buzz right now.
However, Quintana’s appearance was motivated by something much deeper than baseball. It was motivated by a unique bond and Quintana’s desire to in some small part return the favor after revealing in spring training that he learned to speak English by watching Fallon on the Tonight Show.
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Quintana, who’s a native of Colombia, has been working for three years to become fluent in English so he could better communicate with teammates and handle the media. White Sox interpreter Billy Russo served as his guide along the way, but Quintana took much of the responsibility on himself by attending classes in Chicago and by watching a lot of American television shows.
That’s where Fallon comes in. As a nightly program, Quintana was able to use Fallon’s show as a source to not only learn the English language, but to study conversations similar to what he needed to prepare for before and after games with the media.
Now, as Quintana embarks on what could be a career-defining season, he’s completely comfortable speaking English and is able to hold his own in any conversation. Even with Fallon himself.
Here’s more on Quintana’s hard work and Fallon’s influence from an MLB.com article posted in March.
His learning process began in-season, speaking with his teammates, listening closely to what they were saying and processing the words. He also watched American television shows to help pick up the language.
What were the shows Quintana relied upon, you may ask? When questioned recently, he said there were a couple. When pushed for one in particular, Quintana laughed and needed a little help from Russo to jog his memory.
“Who is the guy who made the Boston Red Sox movie?” asked Quintana, referring to “Fever Pitch”.
“Jimmy Fallon,” Russo responded.
“I watched his show,” Quintana said, smiling a little broader at this point. “I watched a couple of TV shows from him. It’s really funny.”
We’ll accept Fallon as the guy from the Red Sox movie. We also would have accepted him as the guy who broke character and cracked up during every skit on “Saturday Night Live.”
Quintana’s appearance led to a fun segment that helped bring a chapter of his story full circle. Now the question is where will that story continue. With his name coming up in trade talks, it’s possible Quintana could end up back in New York sooner than later, perhaps with Fallon cheering him on this time as a member of the Yankees.
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